“And now at defense for the Rangers…”



OK, that’s probably a cheap shot at a certain lumbering Rangers defenseman, although word is Frankenstein was pretty good on the odd man rush in his day (Just an aside here, I don’t have an explanation for why this particular Frankenstein is carrying a stack of of books, although knowledge IS power).


Anyway, these are hardly encouraging times for Rangers fans, and at least some of it has to with the worrisome state of the team’s defense. Yes, there was also the sorry power play in “last night’s 3-0 debacle”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061019/SPORTS01/610190387/1046/SPORTS, but that’s something that is bound to click over time.

As for some of the defense, I’m not sure any of them are going pick up a couple of steps of foot speed over the course of the season. Maybe Tom Renney had a point when he said the defense’s struggles last night can be attributed to forwards not coming back to help. But slow is slow. That’s not something even the best backchecking in the league can camouflage.

Meanwhile, the coach probably made the right call by giving his team the day off today. The Rangers haven’t had one since the Sunday after the Philadelphia game 12 days earlier, and there’s something to be said for a team recharging its batteries.

Or in Marek Malik’s case, to catch up on some reading….

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    Hossa has ZERO points in 7 games and is a minus-4… He’s obviously a softy too…

    Rachunek has 1 point in 7 games and is a minus-6 (worst rating by-far, of all our defensemen)… He’s also a softy… (Malik had a bad game last night, but he is a Plus-2, and is better than Karel)…

    I heard Ozodrunk may be back on Saturday, so does he get inserted into the lineup for Rachunek? I wouldn’t mind seeing Pock in for Rachunek, but regardless, Darius better not sit for Ozo’s return… Rachunek does nothing out there…

    As for Hossa, replace him with Colton Orr… I know there were going to sit Dawes last night, until Orr got sick – but I’d have a lineup WITH Dawes AND Orr, with HOSSA sitting…

    Or sit Hossa (keeping Dawes in the lineup) and bring up Immonen to play… If someone needs to move from center, or if you have to move Imo to the wing so be it, but give that kid a shot…

    May not be time to PANIC yet, but it MAY be time to make some damn changes!!!

  2. Man… stop with blaming Hossa and Rachunek they are NOT the weakest link on Rangers- MALIK IS. Damn leave Hossa alone he is not a point producer. IMO he was not bad with Dawes this game. Our 3-4 lines are they only lines that generated some energy and took the puck deep. Hossa is not Marian and chanses are he will never be, but he is strong in the corners and not bad on PK. Our 1-2 lines are responsible for offense, 3-4 might only add a bit to it, but not a solid scoring lines.

  3. Hey Sam! As I’ve said before, just love your blog and all the info and entertainment you are giving us diehards outside the scope of the routine articles (not calling your articles routine :), but you know what I mean)found in the papers…DOn’t stop….Love the honesty and sense of humor but don’t burn your bridges with the players (some do read this stuff) or Frankenstein might not call you “friend” and won’t give you a quote the next time he scores a goal from between his legs! That the goal will be scored on Lundqvist is another matter..

  4. Sam, how do you resist temptation to not grab Renney by the shirt collar and tell him to bench Malik!!
    I’m never one to jump on the fire the coach bandwagon, but some of the moves by Renney really have me scratching my head.

  5. Ok Kirill, so what exactly has Karel Rachunek and Marcel Hossa done for us this season?

    I know Hossa scored on the shootout, and I’ve seen him make ONE good defensive play, agaisnt the Devils… Other than that, the guy does NOTHING!!! He doesn’t even HIT!!!!!

    I’m scratching my head about Rachunek, because I have no idea what that guy does… At least Malik is in the PLUS column, in the plus-minus dept… Marek is soft too, but Rachunek is WORSE!

    Hoss is downright awful, and I’m not exactly sure why he plays EVERY NIGHT! Zero points in 7 games and doesn’t hit or ANYTHING….

  6. Why is Fotiu so for sitting Hossa and playing Dawes because Hossa is a “softy” with no points. What, then, is Dawes?

    Hossa is -4, but how many of those goals against are his fault? Not many. Not many at all. And he has no points, but he’s getting 4 minutes a night. It’s hard to set up when you’re on the ice for 20 seconds then being pulled back.

    Which could be a problem. Can Shanahan keep up his 24+ minutes a night? Or should we be giving the fourth line more than 4-6 minutes?

    As for Rachunek, yes, his +/- is less than Malik’s. But who is Rachunek usually on the ice with? I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t Jagr. If he’s lucky it’s Shanahan, but even that isn’t too often. His shifts tend to line up very, very well with Blair Betts, though.
    Meanwhile Malik lines up well with our top scorers. Yet he only has one assist…

    Which is why +/- is often a terrible indicator of worth and skill, especially in under 10 games. Rachunek will not have a good +/- so long as he’s not on the ice with people that can score, and Malik’s will always be decent so long as he’s always on the ice with Jagr and Shanahan.

    You need to watch the games to really understand what’s happening on the ice.
    Malik is awful. He’s every bit as bad as we were afraid when he was signed to that contract (we all felt so wrong last season but so horribly right now.) Rachunek isn’t great, but he’s certainly not terrible. And Hossa has been invisible, but done more good than bad. Much like Dawes, who was invisible outside of the first period last night.
    So, if you hate Hossa and love someone in Hartford, you should be ecstatic, because Hossa will never get better and never get confidence playing 4 minutes a night. He’s just holding a place for those rare times that everyone else needs a rest. Immomen, Dubinksy, etc are likely better getting top minutes in Hartford, even if they have little to truly gain there.

  7. Hoss was credited with 1 hit and 1 shot in 4:55 of ice time last night.
    Malik was credited with 0 hits and 0 shots in almost 19 minutes of ice time.

    Granted, different positions, but if you keep throwing +/- out there, obviously we can compare at least hits, right?

    Hossa is not a problem. He’s not a solution, but he’s not a problem. Like I said, 5 minutes a game. What do you want for 5 minutes a game?

    Malik is out there for almost a full period. He’s a problem. A huge glaring one. We might be dripping blood from Hossa and Rachunek, but we’ve torn a damn atery with Malik. Why be so concerned putting on tiny bandaids on tiny wounds when you need massive surgery?

  8. Actually, Hossa plays an average of 8 1/2 minutes a night… 8:31 to be exact…

    Hossa is soft and I don’t like SOFT players, unless they are productive or aces defensively… 0 goals and 0 assists in 7 games is NOT productive and I wouldn’t exactly call Hossa a desensive SPECIALIST or a SPARKPLUG on the 4th line… When Ortmeyer gets back I’m sure he’ll take Hossa’s spot (thank GOD)…

    As for Rachunek, I’m hoping he’d sit when Ozodrunk comes back (maybe as soon as Saturday), but Renney makes some questionable decisions…

    I’m not a huge Malik fan either… He’s as SOFT as they come considering his size – I just think he’s better than Rachunek…

    Dawes has been pointless too, but he’s played 2 less games thna Hossa, and he has more speed and much more potential in my opinion… Although I’d sit either him or Hossa for Orr, and get some toughness into this ballet-like hockey team…

    Call up Immonen too… He’s a smart 2-way player that seems to be a responsible forward (he backchecks!)

    Hossa and Rachunek do nothing……

  9. Beamer, right on the money!!! Ok Fotiu in Rangers-Flyers game I remeber Hossa battling 2 Flyers along the boards and winning. He is really strong along the boards and in the corners. Malik supposed to be a defensive – and we got hooking defensman instead. And he will not get any better since this is how he plays. I am not even going watch Toronto game if Malik is in the lineup, because I know they going to destroy Rangers.

  10. Hi Sam !

    Please allow me to repeat my post from two days ago because I still didn´t any kind of response even from other people !

    “Today I read in the papers a story about the reason that Patrick Elias decided to stay with the Devils instead of signing with the Rangers. They said that the Rangers didn´t offer him more money but no no-trade-clause so Elias chose to resign with the Devils.

    hm I simply don´t understand it ! He choses to resign a contract with less money and without a no-trade-clause for more money more czech players ( which he stated that is very comfortable for him )only because there is no trade-clause….????

    So the Devils would be able to deal him anyway ???

    I think there was some other stuff involved in his decisison ! Hm, if the Rangers would have signed him they wouldn´t have had the cup space in acquiring Brendan Shanahan….”

  11. You two guys may be the only Ranger fans I’ve heard of applauding Marcel Hossa *LOL*… For the rest of us, it’s a big mystery how he makes it into the lineup every single night!

    As for Rachunek, he’s just plain terrible and a waste of a defensive roster spot…

    I agree, Malik has been pretty bad and he IS soft too… But I’d take him over Rachunek any day of the week!

  12. Sam, any idea on why Prucha was benched for most of the third period? Also Cullen has great speed and a good shot, but NEVER passes the puck. This seems to be a bad fit with Prucha. Any thoughts on moving Cullen to wing and calling up Dubinsky or Immonen?

  13. When and where have I applauded Hossa?

    I’m just saying focusing all your angst at Hossa while Malik and Rosival are on the ice so much longer seems curious, to be polite.

    If you want another analogy, it’s like complaining that you can’t eat an M&M because of the fat content, after just finishing a Big Mac.

  14. Sam………………..

    I don´t like your Frankenstein at all, you should have brought up something more sweet or nice kind of creature:)
    You should know, which one that could be :)

    In reference to your pregame follies I´d like to have a whole burger crashing over your trousers in order to get the Rangers a win in the next couple of games :)

    Big smile


  15. Malik Must GO!!!

    I used to watch Marek Malik play In New Haven when he was property of Florida or Carolina ( I forget which team owned him. New Haven had 2 affiliates). He was booed in New Haven as well. He never hit anybody. He is slow. And he has a bad shot. How this guy made it to become a multi-million dollar defenseman per year in this league is beyond me.

    Just thought that you guys would like to know that he was booed heavily in the AHL as well. Last year was a dream for Malik. He is awful.

  16. Beamer, I’m not saying the reason we are 3-4 and not playing well is all because of Hossa… I think most of our defense is extremely soft and opposing teams have no fear of having their way with us, in our own zone…

    Other than Ward and Darius (and sometimes Tyutin) nobody plays a tough, physical game out there, or clears the front of the net…

    It’s why I was so disappointed when the Rangers passed up on Zdeno Chara… He isn’t the fastest guy in the world, but he IS nasty and does make sure the front of the net is clear… He also protects his goaltenders, which most of our D-Men forget to do…

    I’m not using Hossa (or Rachunek) as the only scape-goats… I just don’t want EITHER in the lineup… I’d make room for Immonen and try and make a trade for a physical defenseman that is tough and MEAN, if I were Sather… We need to be tough on our blue-line, and it makes me sick, watching teams have their way with us, in our own zone…

  17. Nickyfotiu22–Actually the Ranger boards, rooms, and walls on the Internet are constantly littered with arguements on HOSSA..He has alot of people in his corner…I see him as nothing more then a 4th liner who, like the rest, needs to earn a spot in the line-up and can easily be traded/waived..When he cycles, plays 100%, kills PP and plays it simple he is seviceable (Like he played late last year), when he doesn’t (which is too often) Renney needs to overcome his love affair and bench him (which he did do last year)

  18. I’m not ready to give up on Malik yet. Do we have a replacement? Are we sure he won’t remember what he was doing last year?

    But I think he needs to start getting less ice time, and less top ice time. I guess it hurts that we’re currently pretty loaded with decent puck-moving defensemen and only one decent physical, defensive defenseman, but we need to rebalance ice time.

    We’re putting Malik and Rosival out there with our top lines. We’re falling behind, then we’re forcing our top two lines on the ice perpetually in hopes of catching back up.

    I’m thinking opening our attack with better balanced defense might get us on the board first and allow us to stay balanced throughout. Hopefully.

  19. Sam, any buzz on any possible personnel changes on the blue line? Trades, etc.? Arguing over which of the current Rangers defensemen is the problem seems like arguing over which of the Harlem Globetrotters needs to get more serious.

  20. Wow, you head out for a workout and here’s what you return to:

    OK, a couple of quick points:

    — Hospo, I hope I’m in a situation where Malik scores a goal and he won’t talk to me. I’d rather write about someone playing well than playing like he did last night.

    — Pgrant, I don’t know why Prucha was benched and I’d like to find out. Deadline is always a factor on game nights, and sometimes you have to just deal with the bigger picture.

    — Beamer, Fotiu and everyone else, Hossa has actually not been that bad. I happen to agree that Dawes deserved more playing time last night and could have even been someone to breathe some life into the power play. But Hossa is certainly a better defensive player at this point, and that’s what you need out of those lower two lines.

    — Buff, the Elias deal I don’t quite understand either. But if you’re a Ranger fan, would you really rather be without Shanahan at this point?

  21. Hossa hasn’t played poorly. But I wouldn’t say he’s played well. He’s had a good play or two a game, and hasn’t had any glaringly terrible plays, but he hasn’t been showing what he was in the final month of last season.

    I’d set the bar for him not at his potential, which should peg him as an Adam Hall-esque player, but at his play at the end of last season.

    I do think, however, that he’s playing better than his dwindling minutes would reflect.

  22. You know what I don’t think Malik plays any different from last year- the league is different from last year. Most of the teams gotten faster and bigger. I think he should wear his “Rambo” head band to the next game may be that will give him some energy and much neede grit. :)))

  23. Sam, just wanted to say GREAT blog you got here, and it’s such a shame I didn’t even discover it till a handful of days ago.

    I can’t agree more with Malik, he’s slow, lifeless, and apparently unable to play fundemental defense. I also agree in regards to Hossa, while I was on his case last season, he does seem to be playing better. Dawes in my mind was the only sign of life from us last night, he was quick to the puck and making plays, he should have gotten more ice time and he needs to be given the opportunity to prove his mettle.

    And in regards to our PP, and not to take credit off Vokoun last night, we were horrendous. Does anyone even know the last game where we had THREE 5 on 3s and didn’t score once? I certaintly don’t. The Jagr-Shanny thing isn’t clicking, we need to spread those two out. We need to put the puck on the net more often, instead of trying to execute the most amazing PP goal ever.

    Just my two cents.

  24. Of course, Sam….!

    No Shanny is great so far…Let´s hope he can continue like that …!!!!

    But I really liked to have Elias in the Rangers line up, because he was a big factor to bring Devils back last season after a poor start….!!!!

  25. Sorrry Koala. Of course, I was addressing you as well.

    Joe, thanks for the kind words.You’re right about Vokoun. Honestly I can’t think of a game when a goalie made 38 saves and pitched a shutout and was still mostly forgettable. It fell to the Rangers, and you’re right in that Shanahan and Jagr just gunning it from the points isn’t working. There needs to be some low rotation of the puck, which the Devils really impressed me with on Monday.

  26. The whole HMO- line is missing, their grit, determination everything. They were the perfect example for all the role players on the team which was very important last year.

    No doubt about it…

    That is the difference to this seasons third and fourth line….

  27. The arguement about choosing between Hossa, Dawes and Malik is interesting, but there is a bigger problem occuring right now that is more about total team makeup.

    Opposing teams officially know how to beat the rangers. Play Physical and Fast. The reason why the rangers look slow as molasses out there at times is because they are being physically dominated by their opponents. The Rangers are losing the higher ground every game. And even if they score and work their asses off the rest of the way, it feels to us at home like they’re fighting an uphill battle.

    The rangers either have to get way more physical or they have to find players who can play that game. That is how to be successful in the new nhl. So, in truth, this argument over Hossa, Dawes and Malik is a microcosm.

    Dawes is somewhat fast, but last night was the first time he was willing to get involved in tight traffic and get hit. Not good for us on line 3 or 4.

    Aside from size and wingspan Malik does not physically dominate the ice, he gives up ice.

    Hossa… the boy doesn’t get the physical side of the game. He does not create room out there with his body and it’s a shame but true. He’s not slow, but he’s not incredibly fast either. Hall has a similar problem (is a little slower too) but is not fancy so he gets more mileage out of his body.

    Bottom line, all 3 of these players are not great fits in the “new NHL.” The rangers need to reclaim the ice out there. They need fast, hard hitting 3rd, 4th lines and defensemen.

    IMO The best person in Hartford who would help in this regard is a guy like Korpikoski. He’s fast (faster than G. Moore) and hits everything.

  28. Neil – And we all know it will not happen… At least this season. Holloweg, Kaspar and Wards and Toots can not do it for the whole team. Renney on the other side will not make any key changes, I wish the future will prove me wrong.

  29. Kirill,

    I too have pessimism about the chances of this problem getting fixed. What it means is we will struggle and hang around the .500 mark most of the season. However, things just might change during the season… a team that plays like this will at some point end up with at least one or more of their skilled forwards getting injured. When this happens, the team make up will change. Hard hats will be put on, players called up… you’ll see.

  30. The Rangers are SOFT. Fotiu is right. Hossa and Rachunek are nothing but wastes of time who go into a corner with a dozen eggs, and never break one of them. And that goes for Malik too, recently. The opposing teams GAIN confidence because they can roam free with abandon and no fear against these desire-deficient slugs.

    Rangers miss guys like Jed Ortmeyer, who provides hustle, leadership, aggressive pursuit, and fearless shot-blocking penalty killing.

    And the Rangers kill the desire of young players in their system because they won’t let them play significant minutes at the NHL level. Other teams have no problem playing young players successfully, like Buffalo, San Jose, Minnesota, Anaheim, Edmonton, etc. But the Rangers insult their young players by playing fringe player journeymen like Hossa, Rachunek, etc. and sending down kids who could help the Rangers, and play now. I see Baranka and Korpikoski as 2 kids who could play now, and provide more energy and hitting and hustle and inspiration than the aforementioned doormats Hossa and Rachunek.

  31. I dont think Nickyfotiu22 really wants to see Hossa do well so he just says he isnt. And as for Rachunek not having good plus minus, well he dosnt paly with the top scoreing lines dose he? Thats why +/- is a hard stat. If you have a minus and you paly with JJ or Shanny, well than thats a more telling stat.

  32. One thing is clear. The rangers are too easy to play against. We can all agree on that. I believe that has as much to do with team make up and team heart than anything else. If you don’t have the personel you have to make up for it with heart.

  33. Energy, enthusiasm, hitting, hustle, drive, desire, determination, and aggressiveness are KEY COMPONENTS of NHL success. And those traits are sorely lacking in a number of current Rangers. Those who can’t see that are just buying into the b.s. that Sather and Renney spread.

    If you offered Hossa, Rachunek, Baranka, and Korpikoski to any team in the league, I guarantee that ALL of them would take Baranka and Korpikoski, and dismiss Hossa and Rachunek. Case closed.

  34. I’ve chimmed in on my fair share of Hossa arguments and probably should just give up now, as they all seem basically the same. Hossa is a very unremarkable player, but in saying that, I mean he’s niether remarkably good or remarkably bad.

    Last season, I watched guys like Strudwick and Niemenen make plays that lead directly to the opposing team scoring. Never once did I see vitriol aimed at those guys. Yet the next day, it was always Hossa didn’t do this and Hossa didn’t do that; bench Hossa, send Hossa back to Slovkia, tar and feather Hossa, etc. And this year, nothing had change.

    I’ve yet to see a play where you could say “sheesh…if Hossa had been benched, (we would have scored/they wouldn’t have scored).” You can look at this one of two ways, either it’s a waste of a spot that (insert player’s/rookie’s name here) could hit,score or set something up. Or, you can look at it like this: With 130 games of experience under his belt and at the age of 25, Hossa skated a solid game, moreso than an overpaid veteran or an inexperienced rookie would have. I would argue the later in this case.

    And for those of you expecting a guy like Dubinsky to come in and wreck shop, keep in mind that Dawes, a 35-goal scorer last season with the Pack, hasn’t exactly found his stride yet in the NHL. Given the Pack are winless to date, I doubt there are many down there that could do much better than Marcel is doing right now.

    True, Hossa is a bit of an enigma, seeing as though he’s got the strength, size and ability to clear space on the ice and score goals, which is part of the reason I think people find it so easy to rag on him. And of course, there’s the last name, which as much as his detractors may deny, defnitley gives the misguided impression that he’ll soon be a first liner. Lastly, no one ever remembers that this was the kid we got last year for Garth Murray, who isn’t exactly tearing up the league since being traded.

    The bottom line is this: Renney sees something in Hossa and so must the other coaches on the team, seeing as though there’s never any negative talk comming from anyone but the fans over this kid. And if the writers aren’t jumping on him, then chances are pretty good they see the same thing.

  35. Thanks tdchi. I think you made a lot of my points as well. Hossa is a decent, workmanlike player who, if his last name was Jones, wouldn’t attract a fraction of the criticism that he gets.

    tsalad, you asked about Ozo playing this weekend and the answer is we don’t know yet. The Rangers took today off, but it’ll certainly be a question for tomorrow. I would imagine after Wednesday, Renney would be more willing to give him a shot if he’s healthy.

  36. sam-
    i am just wondering what renney has in store for the PP. did they work on that today? pelino runs the PP, maybe he can give a good answer. perhaps getting straka off the point would be a good start. i honostley believe that they should get tyutin out for the PP more. his shot is secretly lethal.

  37. Alex, I myself believe the issue with the PP is just as much HOW it’s played as it is WHOS playing it. The Rangers’ apparent PP strategy, regardless of the situation, is to feed the puck to the pointmen and just blast away. While this obviously works some of the time, it won’t always do the trick. If you watch, they bring the puck down low, looking to find maybe someone in the slot or a cross-ice pass, but just when it’s looking promising, they bring it right back to the point.

    We need someone who won’t mind parking themselves in front of the crease and taking some shots to establish a good screen or maybe, just maybe, be open for a nice one-timer from the slot. As Sam said earlier, we need to generate some low rotation. We have to add some creativity and variety to our PP. It’s so predictable it can cure insomnia.

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